by B.J. Hollars
We are (virtually) gathered here today, not to mourn the loss of our beloved Origami Zoo, but to celebrate her life. Those of us who knew her best know she’d certainly get a kick out of the solemnity of such an occasion. Which is why I call upon you to shake your solemnity, and instead, take a moment to reflect on the gift she gave us with the time she had.
I first met Origami Zoo in the fall of 2011. I was a younger man then, a newly installed professor in the hallowed halls of academia, and—to be frank—somewhat unprepared for halls as hallowed as those.
Case in point: I was writing essays about the existence of Bigfoot.
Well, that’s not quite right. In truth, I was writing essays about the existence of Sasquatch, an entirely different beast altogether (sort of…though not genetically speaking). But I digress…
The point is this: Origami Zoo indulged the work, championed it, and even gave that work a home. It wasn’t long before I rounded out that eventual chapbook with essays on the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and a giant turtle named Oscar. Though neither of those essays helped me fit in any better in those hallowed halls, O.Z. didn’t much care. Indeed, the collection must’ve seemed like lunacy, though now that we have the power of hindsight—and have since confirmed the existence of all of the aforementioned creatures (author’s note: do not fact check)—it seems our dear friend, Origami Zoo took a risk worth taking (author’s note #2: do not see “Book Sales” as proof).
All of this is to say that Origami Zoo took seriously what others wouldn’t. In my work she saw more than monsters, but humans, too, many of whom—for better or worse—believed in those creatures’ existence. Origamo Zoo’s confidence in the work was what eventually led me to the message I’d most hoped to share: that regardless of whether we were designed with fur or flippers or common flesh, we remain cohabitants nonetheless.
In some ways, our beloved O.Z. is no different than our dear friend, Sasquatch: both were here on this earth for far too short a time, though both will always linger. Indeed, I will never pass my bookshelf without glimpsing the wonderful work O.Z. has left behind; likewise, I will never traverse the wilderness without seeing Sasquatch’s familiar blur in the trees. Both sightings will always give me reason to smile—cause to remember what a better world we had with both of them still in it.
B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, most recently From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human, as well as a collection of essays, This Is Only A Test.
Origami Zoo Press is closing, but you can still get our books until the end of the year.